CHARLESTON, WV — A coalition of organizations called on the Capitol Building Commission to immediately begin the process of removing the statue of Stonewall Jackson from the West Virginia Capitol grounds.
The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) noted a letter from the coalition states the statue should be removed due to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson being a Confederate general and a slaveholder.
In a letter to the Commission, its chair Randall Reid-Smith and Gov. Jim Justice, the coalition references reports the Commission recently met but did not discuss the statue. When reporters asked commission members why this was the case, officials responded that they had received no formal request to do so.
ACLU-WV said their letter to the Capitol Building Commission is being asked to be considered a formal request.
Many honorary names, plaques, statues and of Confederate officials and slaveowners have been removed across the country in recent weeks.
The letter stated the Kanawha County School Board unanimously voted to remove Jackson’s name from West Virginia’s most racially diverse middle school, while Charleston officials removed a plaque honoring the Kanawha Riflemen, a pro-confederate militia during the Civil War.
“Governors in other states — including Kentucky and North Carolina —have recognized that ‘[m]onuments to white supremacy don’t belong in places of allegiance, and it’s past time that these painful memorials be moved in a legal, safe way. It may be a small step toward achieving racial justice, but it is a necessary one, Gov. Justice.”
The coalition includes: Call to Action for Racial Equality (CARE) Coalition, State of WV NAACP, NAACP of Charleston, Morgantown/Kingwood Branch of the NAACP, Race Matters in West Virginia, Race Matters in Greenbrier Valley, Black Lives Matter: West Virginia, Our Future WV, WVU Black Law Students Association, Keep Us Safe WV, ACLU-WV, ACLU at WVU Law, Democratic Law Caucus at WVU Law, Hispanic Law Student Association at WVU Law, Asian Pacific Law Student Association at WVU Law, OUTlaw at WVU Law, Fairness WV, American Friends Service Committee – WV, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, Mountain State Justice, Inc., National Association of Social Workers, West Virginia Chapter, National Organization of Women—WV Chapter, The Partnership for Furthering Arts and Education, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Summers County Huddle, WVU Labor Law Society, West Virginia Employment Lawyers -Student Chapter, WV Free, and WV Working Families Party.
Jackson is deserving of the Capitol grounds. He was born in what became West Virginia. His statue was the first one to grace the old capitol grounds. Two years later for balance, the Mountaineer statue was installed to support the loyal Virginians/West Virginians. They were moved to the current site when the new capital was built. Since then there was added the Soldiers & Sailors monument, Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, The Miner, the Women Veterans, and the 20th Century wars monument. There is also a police and firefighters memorial on the campus. Removing Jackson from the history displayed at the outdoor museum of the capitol grounds is like removing a front tooth from a smile.
The Capitol grounds are for everyone. But each monument represents an aspect of the population. Some may not like all the monuments there, others might like every one of them, maybe some like none. Removing one for the satisfaction brings division and states that one group is not welcome to the people’s lawn. Add to the smile, maybe add William H. Davis over near the Governor’s mansion and in the site of the Soldiers & Sailors — he was the first Black to run for Governor in West Virginia in 1888 and has an interesting story with him.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans support the monuments to the community loss from the war. We support building history not tearing it down. These monuments are the bookmarks to remind us to check the history books and the stores of these men both North and South.”Ernest Blevins, The Commander of the Robert S. Garnett Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans